Thousands of left-wing activists gathered at Habima Square in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening to protest Benjamin Netanyahu's new government.
The demonstration, dubbed "Fighting for Democracy," began at 7:00 PM. At around 10:00, approximately 200 protesters marched toward the Azrieli Mall. In an attempt to block the Ayalon highway, the protesters attempted to push through police lines and even pushed into the mall's parking garage.
Despite the organizer's attempts to fight the waving of PLO flags at the demonstration by distributing Israeli flags, countless PLO flags, along with flags of the radical Antifa movement, have been spotted at the demonstration.
At 8:00 PM, police estimated that approximately 15,000 protesters had gathered at the square.
At the same time, approximately 2,000 protesters demonstrated in Haifa, and in Jerusalem, approximately 1,500 protesters gathered outside the president's residence. Later reports indicate that 5,000 protesters participated in the demonstration in Jerusalem. In Modiin, protesters stood outside the home of Justice Minister Yariv Levin.
Avi Himi, chairman of the Bar Association, stated: "Democracies don't die from atom bombs. And the first dying flutter of every democracy begins with the crushing of the judicial system, which is the main brake on the power of the government, and the main protection of the citizen against the power of the regime."
"The washed-up "reform" they are trying to impose on us threatens to poison Israeli democracy. Democracies don't die with tanks in the streets but with riot control pumper trucks. We will not let those deter us - we will not allow unfounded tweets to loosen our hands. Let us be a free people in our country! Our struggle is based on truth! And not about demagoguery! Our struggle is based on rejecting the lie!"
MK Elazar Stern from the Yesh Atid movement expressed regret that there was no religious and haredi representation at the demonstration in Tel Aviv, telling Israel National News: "It pains me that they did not come. After Rabin's murder, they said 'they don't want us in the demonstrations', but the time for this excuse is over. We want religious Zionism in these demonstrations."
Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai is holding an assessment briefing at his office in Tel Aviv and is receiving live updates from the demonstrations.
National Security Minister Ben-Gvir's staff reported that he received a briefing from the police commissioner and a senior officer in Tel Aviv about the demonstration. He expressed satisfaction that the demonstrators did not come with Nazi symbols. Ben-Gvir reportedly asked the police not to give the protesters "photos they want" but demanded equal justice for all.
Eliad Sharga, the chairman of the Movement for the Quality of Government, said at the demonstration in Tel Aviv: "Children of Light, I tell you today, we are all together, we will not be deterred, we will continue to the end, to lead and manage the battle for the image and identity of the State of Israel, as a democratic and as a liberal state".
MK Benny Gantz called on the public to attend the demonstration in Tel Aviv, stating, "It is true that it is a little cold, but this is our country. Let everyone take the Israeli flag in one hand, an umbrella in the other, and come to protect democracy and the law in the State of Israel. We will meet in the square."
Singer Ivri Lider joined the protest in Tel Aviv, saying, "We fear for our country, our rights, and our values." Lider performed the song "Zachiti Le'ehov" (I was lucky enough to love) for the crowd.
Tel Aviv district chief, Deputy Commissioner Ami Ashad, inspected the sight of the demonstration earlier in the day, together with the Yarkon area chief Assistant Commissioner Eitan Menashe. Ashad told his officers, "Our main goal is that anyone who comes to the demonstration can do so in an orderly fashion and leave in a safe and orderly fashion. We have one interest: to allow the demonstration to take place in any way possible; that's our central goal. Therefore we need to be sensitive and patient, as we have been in the past."
Ashad emphasized, "Our only goal is to deal with vandalism and violence. We won't deal with trivial things. Anything else you, the commanders, will decide. You know the policy; it hasn't changed."
In response to the PLO flags that protesters flew at the previous demonstration against the government in Tel Aviv's Habima Square, the organizers of this evening's demonstration have now brought dozens of Israeli flags.